Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Learning to Be Alone

Tess worries.  Alot.

When I first brought her home, I was planning on crate training her.  This turned out to be a much bigger task than expected.

She was terrified of her crate.  She refused to go inside.  But she was (and still is) very food motivated.  So, I began to feed her beside her crate - just far enough away to make her feel safe.  The after a few days, I would inch it closer, repeating until after a couple weeks or so it was just inside the door. 

The next stage took a bit longer.  Once in the crate I inched it further into the crate - but at a much slower pace as before.  Another couple of weeks.  When I finally got the food dish all the way to the back of the crate, she would stretch as far as possible, keeping one paw just outside.

Once she would comfortably go completely inside the crate, I began shutting the door while she ate.  I didn't lock it at this point, but she never pushed her way out, so I quickly began locking it after her.  After a week of this, I began slowly leaving her in longer and longer while I stayed in the room.  Then I started leaving the room and staying in the house.

Luckily, I was in college at the time, so I was usually only gone for a few hours.  This way I could go back home and let her out between classes.

The whole process took over 2 months!  But, with Tess, it was very important that I not ever force her into her crate.  Since I am a HUGE advocate of them, it was very important that Tess feel that the crate is her "safe" place.  Fast forward three years and Tess loves her crate.  She often goes in just to relax (or to get away from Edi!). 

That's not to say she doesn't still have issues...but we're working on it!


  1. Ray doesn't love his crate but he doesn't hate it either. His safe zone is actually under the kitchen table so I ended up putting a thick comforter under there for him but he still sleeps in his crate (when his daddy is home) and he gets a frozen meatball. He knows when I get the bag out of the freezer that he should run to his crate for his meatball. Big goofy boy!

    1. Frozen Meatballs!! That is such a great idea...I love it! Ed & Tess will have to thank you, because I'm going to steal this idea.

    2. We worked on getting Polly to like her crate by doing the slow intro (like you) and also giving her the best treats (i.e. frozen kongs and marrow bones) only in her crate! It is so different from Turkey, who always loved his crate and goes in there just to chill out. :)

    3. Ed, too - while he doesn't love it (he'd much rather hang out with us), he has never had any problems staying in there as long as he has to. And, he even slept in there on his own for the first time since he's been allowed out at night.

  2. Lainey does well with her crate. She will even put herself to bed at night if she is ready before we are.

  3. Wow, I'm impressed you were able to crate train that way. I've always heard that's the best method, slow and gradual while building the positive association but we never had the time.
    Hades seemed to crate train instantly. Maybe he had been trained in the past, who knows.
    Braylon hated it for like a week, but grew to feel secure in the crate. We couldn't transition due to schedules so it was just sort of wham! Here you go!
    Now that we don't crate she gets our bedroom when we are gone. I gave her free reign of the majority of the house one day and when we came home she seemed panicky like it had overwhelmed her. She didn't get into anything but we decided she feels safer closed off in the bedroom.
    Our pups don't seem to use the crates anymore even though we have a crate in most every room. Although one day Jay came home and Hades had someone "crated himself." He was in his crate with the door shut but not locked but somehow thought he couldn't get out. I don't know how he ended up in there with the door shut, but I had a good laugh at that! Jay said he was acting all nervous like he thought he couldn't leave the crate. I didn't think he used it though since every time I come home I've seen him on the couch when I go to let him out.